20Th Century Music Essay Research Paper There

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20Th Century Music Essay, Research Paper There is no distinct transition between the romantic and 20th century music periods. They were both musical movements that broke away from many of the previous traditional ideals. Both stressed emotion and depth, and focussed on the composer’s individual feelings and interpretations. For simplicity the 20th century style music is generally regarded as starting in the decade preceding the First World War. This was a time when composers began trying to experiment with the usage of the musical language. The focus of many composers was on ‘liberation of sound’, the right to make music with any sounds, whether pleasurable or not. As the romantic composers emphasized the composer’s emotions and individuality, the 20th century

composers found new ways using music to represent things (i.e. Emotions, events, places). The onset of worldwide war and political and social unrest was a trigger that encouraged composers to find new and different ways to express themselves. The tonal system was to undergo the biggest change through this period of time. Unlike romantic composers, 20th century people did not look for clear, pleasing, and lyrical melodies. Instead, they almost totally abandoned the old tonal system and used all 12 tones to create harsh, dissonant melodies and chords. A new method of arranging pitches was created by Arnold Shoernberg. This became known as the 12-tone system. It required the use of all 12 tones in a random pattern, which could then be manipulated to add variation. Along with this

several new types of harmonisation became widely used. These are polychords, cluster chords, 4th chords. Polychords are 2 or more separate chords played together. Cluster chords are several consecutive semitones played in a chord. These were used to create huge amounts of tension in the music. This often created the effect of suspense that would not resolve for the entire piece. Impressionism was a 20th century artistic movement that focussed on atmosphere, tone colours, and movement. Symbolism is frequently associated with impressionism and relates to the suggestion of images through music. Around the time of the First World War there were many people who began to question the whole ‘why is this happening’, and ‘why are we here’ thing. Many composers tried to confront

the realities of the human existence with their music. There was a deliberate element of violence, confusion, and distortion to symbolise the dark, evil side of people. During the early 20th when many of these were being composed the public were strongly critical of them. Critics have described the sound of many pieces as ‘ferocious,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘barbaric,’ and ‘macabre’. Composers like Bartok and Debussy were skilled in creating varying moods through their music. Debussy often sought to create unusual sounds and tones by taking influence from other countries, particularly non-western countries. He used traditional Chinese percussion and wind instruments in some of his works. This is known as exoticism, and is a feature in some twentieth century music. Many romantic

composers sought to create music that idealised the atmosphere and people of their country. Romantics were interested by program music, which was used to represent events, characters, or emotions in a story. These were sometimes based on social issues at the time of writing. Twentieth century composers also had a focus on their countries. Because of the political and social changes in the 20th century, particularly during and after WW1, people had a strong sense of national pride. Many sought to cherish and preserve their cultural traditions. Many musicians tried to create music which reflected the ‘primeval soul of the nation’ and the background of the country. B la Bartok was a Hungarian nationalist and took strong influence from traditional Hungarian folk melodies. His use